Recently I was thinking about the year so far and noticed that my output for the year was down compared to other years. Why was this?
Maybe I have been too busy with other aspects of the business. Sometimes it can be hard to get to shoot when the business issues have to be dealt with. Even so, I still want to keep my Photoshop skills sharp and some kind of regular image rate. So I decided to start using stock more. I prefer to shoot my stock images, but using other people's stock frees me up to create images I may not have been able to if I was shooting everything myself. So for my first stock-based image, I decided to create something inspired by Blade Runner.
Because I knew what I was aiming to create, I knew the kind of images I wanted. For the person in the image, I purchased some amazing model stock from NeoStock. NeoStock is a great site that offers premium model stock for genre work.
I also downloaded 2 free stock images from Pixabay. One of a city, and one of a sports car.
All will become clear what the car was used for soon! But first I had to get my background city image to a place where it would be a good template for a Blade Runner style image. Blade Runner is a very night driven film, so to make the city image look more like nighttime I created a curves adjustment. With that adjustment, I pulled down the slider on the right which is for your highlights. I also pulled down the center which is for mid-tone. The image was a little too dark so I pulled up the darks just a little to lessen the contrast.
Now to add to the nighttime effect I need to make the lights of the vehicles brighter. I did this to each of them by creating a blank layer and switching the blend mode to screen. Screen mode is good for glowing light effects. I then sampled the headlight color of the vehicles and gently painted the effect in over the lights.
Our backplate is now looking pretty good, so let's add in our model stock. I played around with the size of the model and roughly worked out the horizon point, so I could place the man somewhere near to the point he would have been.
Our guy is in place but now we need to blend him into his surroundings more, he is far too bright and contrasty. To deal with this I used a curves adjustment. Again I pulled down the highlights with the slider and pulled up the darks a little. This a good way to lower contrast but also make something darker.
Now we are getting to the fun part, lights! Styling an image is always fun, and adding lights is a good way to stylize a fantasy/sci-fi piece. I started with the building on the right-hand side. I selected all the windows and filled them with a yellow/orange color on a screen blend mode. I then sampled the color, and on a new layer on a linear dodge blend mode painted in more glow. I then move on to the doorway of the building. I wanted the door to have a neon sign above it. So I found a good text font online and typed out striptease in blue. Using a distort transform tool I then fit it to the top of the doorway. Next, I create a new layer and place it on a screen blend mode. I sampled the blue of the type and gently painted over it giving a glow effect. The same technique was used for the hotel sign in the distance.
The image still needs to look more Blade Runner-esque, so let's add more neon lights! I added some strip lights to the building in the distance on the right. To do this I created a blue line with the marquee tool and simply kept duplicating it. I then matched it up with all the window ledge lines down the building. For the building in the center at the back, I wanted to try a different effect. So I downloaded some computer motherboard stock, turned it to blue and then switched it to screen blend mode. All that was left was the bright areas in blue which I transformed over the building with the distort function.
We are starting to get somewhere. But the image feels a little out of balance. We need some neon lights on the left side. Knowing this, I also had to keep color harmonies in balance. So I checked my color wheel. I already had blues and yellow, so to make that a complementary triad, red would have to be the color of the light on the left side. To create the neon sign, again I found a neon looking font from a free site. I typed out what I wanted it to say (Central Casino) and then with the distort transform tool matched it to the angles of the building. I then Added glow painting over it with the same color on a screen blend mode.
We got our badass neon sci-fi lighting, but what next? I thought the image needed a little more story or drama. Our character needs some kind of opposition or challenge. So what better than a flying vehicle coming towards us. I took the free stock image of a sports car, cut it out and brought it into the image. I added a little motion blur to it so it looked as if it was moving.
So far so good, although the color is not what I want. To change this I simply created a hue/saturation adjustment layer and moved the hue slider until it changed to a color a preferred. In this case, blue. I then pulled down the darkness with the lightness slider in the same adjustment.
So we now have a blue floating sports car. We need to change it into something more Blade Runner. Lights and more lights will do the trick. To create the sirens on top, I pinched some of a free stock image of a police car and transformed them onto my sports car. With a new layer on a screen blend mode, I painted in the glow for each color. With another new layer on a screen blend mode, I then painted in the light flare of the headlights. Light flare is super good for stylizing as I said before.
Having a glance at the image, I realized that I need to blend the model into the scene a little better. There is snow falling in the image but our model seems immune so what we need to do is have the snow falling behind him too. To apply the snow all I did was search DeviantArt for a snow stock image. I dragged this into my layers palette, making sure it was above the model layer and switched it to a screen blend mode. This just left the white flakes over our model and nicely made him feel more part of the world around him.
The image is looking pretty much done, all I felt it needed was a final sci-fi feeling color tone. As usual with all my images I usually mix a color gradient adjustment layer with a selective color adjustment layer. In this case, I used murk greens for the gradient and put some blues into the darks with my selective color.
The home stretch! To finish the image off I added some text to the front of the flying car saying police I thought it was a nice touch to the story. Once I had done in Photoshop, I finished the image off in Lightroom as I always do with some sharpening, clarity, and vignette adjustments.
There you have it! A Blade runner inspired piece comprised solely of stock.
Do you guys use stock in your images or do you like to shoot all the elements yourself?